Applied Sports Science newsletter – March 9, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for March 9, 2018


What goes into a big league position switch? Four All-Stars are finding out this spring

ESPN MLB, Jerry Crasnick from

… Many professional ballplayers who switch positions have the luxury of doing it in the minors, where mistakes are part of the developmental process and the crowds are small and generally forgiving. When the adjustment takes place in the big leagues, where every player is ostensibly a finished product and 30,000 people are in the stands, the stakes are higher.

This spring, four players with All-Star Games on their résumés and long-term contracts totaling $276 million are dealing with strange vantage points and information overload as they try to embrace the subtleties of a position change in the Cactus League. The regular-season opener is barely three weeks away, and they’re tasked with making something incredibly hard look like second nature.


Inside the erratic and uncertain life of an NBA two-way player

ESPN NBA, Rachel Marcus from

Forty-five days.

That was the maximum length of time C.J. Williams could spend with the LA Clippers as a two-way player, one of two additional spots on a now-17-man roster, new for the 2017-18 season. The 45-day caveat with the Clips included practices, travel and games. To avoid unnecessarily hitting the limit, all other official basketball time had to be spent with the G League affiliate team.

So up and down the 28-year-old rookie out of NC State went, back and forth between Los Angeles and Ontario, California, where the Agua Caliente Clippers are located. He put plenty of miles on his 2003 Infiniti sedan, but it was all part of the journey after playing everywhere from Cyprus to Italy to France.

This season, only the Phoenix Suns have relied on more minutes from two-way players than the Clippers, who’ve dealt with more injuries than Doc Rivers said he has ever experienced in his coaching career. Most have had sporadic call-ups to the NBA and logged few minutes, but Williams and two-way teammate Tyrone Wallace have started a combined 28 games and become integral pieces to the Clippers’ roster.


Ichiro returns home to play again for Seattle Mariners

Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan from

… The inciting incidents were two-fold: the degradation of Ichiro’s production and the constriction of the free-agent market. For months, Ichiro’s agent, John Boggs, had called and prodded and pestered teams in hopes of finding Ichiro a job after another season of middling numbers. Most didn’t bother responding. All the while, Ichiro was back home, staring at his baseball mortality, understanding that players who could be his kids were ready to take his job. And as much as this may have corroded his belief in the past, he found peace in his work, the day-after-day grind that makes baseball his life 360 days a year around 360 degrees of the planet.

“I was able to not let anything affect me,” Ichiro said. “That’s the kind of player and that’s the kind of person that I’ve always wanted to be. I think I found myself that way this year.”

It was, he said, the confluence of lessons taught him the past five years, when he went from untouchable in Seattle to respected but otherwise ordinary in New York and Miami. He knew his name would be in the lineup in Seattle. He checked it daily with the Yankees and Marlins. If a left-handed pitcher came into the game, he knew the manager might call upon a pinch hitter. Eventually, he became that pinch hitter, a one-at-bat-a-day guy.


Smooth Operator: Dwane Casey Is Still Ironing out Every Wrinkle He Can Find, NBA, Lee Jenkins from

… When Lowry and DeRozan led Toronto to the playoffs in 2013–14, no one was more surprised than the Raptors themselves, who rushed out the marketing slogan they’d reserved for the following season: “We The North.” Since that stroke of branding genius, Toronto has never won fewer than 49 games, a stretch Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady would envy. The Caseys moved to the brownstone in Summerhill, with a school at the end of the block and a ballpark where dads set up a pitching machine and order pizza. When Brenda hawked Raps gear from Dwane’s closet to raise money for the school last fall, she sold out in a day.

She calls him a hoarder, not of clothes but of notes, scrawled on everything from magazine covers to kindergarten paintings. Loose pages fill plastic bins in the basement, pick-and-rolls drawn for Gary Payton and pin-downs for Kevin Garnett, along with VHS tapes he doesn’t have a machine for. “I can burn them onto DVDs,” Casey argues, not that he ever will. “I guess I just like knowing where my thoughts are,” he says. He can always open the lid and retrace an improbable ascent, from south to north, the bottom of the basketball world to the top.


LA Galaxy announce Sports Science and Performance Department staff

LA Galaxy from

With support from Herbalife Nutrition, the LA Galaxy made key additions to the club’s Sports Science and Performance Department. Led by Pierre Barrieu, Director of Sports Performance, and Ivan Pierra, Director of Sports Science, the department will maximize performance, minimize injury risk, optimize fitness and nutrition levels and execute comprehensive training regiments for Major League Soccer’s premier club.

“This is a part of our technical staff that we were very focused on improving ahead of the 2018 season,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “As we strive to be the best in MLS, we have partnered with Herbalife Nutrition to invest in our Sports Science and Performance Department with the intention of putting our players in the best position possible to succeed.”


Why so many children’s sports coaches are unqualified and underpaid

The Conversation, AJ Rankin-Wright and Sergio Lara-Bercial from

Millions of men, women and children take part in sport and physical activity every day. And across Europe, around 9m sport coaches support them to fulfil their personal and collective goals. This compares to around 6m teachers.

It is estimated that around 80% of these coaches work with children. But research shows the majority of these coaches are not qualified, or hold very low level generic coaching qualifications. The research also shows that very few children’s coaches hold a qualification that specifically prepares them to coach this age group.

So while children’s sport coaches might be one of the biggest workforces in Europe, as a group, they are one of the least qualified, least recognised and least remunerated.

Part of the problem, is that children’s coaches are not as highly regarded or valued compared to those coaching high performance athletes.


In Pursuit of Pleasure, Brain Learns to Hit the Repeat Button

Columbia University, Zuckerman Institute from

New study in mice shows how the brain learns to reproduce patterns of brain activity that lead to reward; provides insights for treating addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


PJ Fleck believes it’s really hard for today’s generation to adapt to a change in culture

FootballScoop, Doug Samuels from

… “The biggest difference, I think, between year one and year two, from the experience that I’ve had as a head football coach, is year one all you’re doing is learning and everything is brand new. In year two, now it’s about doing the culture. It was learning the culture in year one, and everything – academically, athletically, socially, spiritually – you have new rules, you have new expectations, you have this new culture, you have this new Gopher talk words. You just have a new era, and it’s hard for young people to be able to adapt to that.”


Power BI vs. Looker vs. Tableau: A CTO’s Guide to Selecting an Analytics & BI Platform

Aptive, Fred Bliss from

It’s 2018, and aside from the debate on the semantics of the words ‘BI’ vs ‘Analytics’, tools have started to stabilize a bit in terms of their vision and execution. Gartner released their yearly magic quadrant for analytics tools, and I found no major surprises. The same usual players made it with their entrenched install base at enterprises in the 2000s (looking at you, IBM and Oracle). Really, who wants to even begin to tackle re-writing 1000’s of Business Objects and Cognos reports? (hint: you shouldn’t do this. Without looking at your environment, I guarantee 90% of those reports are either redundant with different filters, or not being used).

In this post, I’ll lay out the top 3 picks that I recommend to my clients, which may not always align with what Gartner says. There are always niche use cases that require different solutions and tools, but these typically cover the use cases I see at mid-size to large enterprise environments today.


The Top Country at the Winter Olympics Now Uses A Moncton Company’s Fitness Software

Huddle, Inda Intiar from

Last year, François Gazzano was casually sipping coffee alongside other participants at the international Olympics Committee World Conference in Monaco. It turns out, the person sitting next to him would land his Moncton-based company FITSTATS Technologies a contract with the Norwegian Olympic Team.

“I had a little chat with this guy. In fact, he was one of the sports scientists for the Norwegian Olympic program. So we exchanged a couple of niceties and he asked me what do you do. I told him about,” he said in a recent interview with Huddle. “I called the guy back in August and he saw the system. They tested it, and they liked it.”


Hamstring injuries still affecting the future of football players, even when practice and games aren’t an issue. #NFLCombine

Twitter, Derek M. Hansen from


Human Microbiome AMA from

Science AMA Series: We are Jack Gilbert, Professor at the University of Chicago, and Mark Smith, founder of OpenBiome. We’re two scientists who study the human microbiome — Ask Us Anything about gut bacteria!


The real reason Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t winning

ESPN MLB, SweetSpot blog, Dave Schoenfield from

Spring training got off to a tumultuous start for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays. Following an offseason in which the Pirates traded Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, David Freese and Josh Harrison came to camp and lamented about the state of the franchise. The Rays traded Evan Longoria in December and then kicked off spring training by trading Jake Odorizzi and designating Corey Dickerson for assignment, moves met with fast and furious criticism across the baseball landscape.

Freese’s comments were the most pointed, saying the culture in Pittsburgh hasn’t been conducive to winning. “The last two years, we haven’t done as well as we could have because of our environment. That’s what I think. I walk in every day, and it’s not in the air. The demand to win just hasn’t been in the air,” he told reporters. In January, Harrison released a statement that he’d rather not play for a rebuilding team. He doubled down when he reported to camp. “I want to win,” he said. “If that’s not what they want to do here, trade me.”


Analytics are here to stay in NFL, but interpreting them remains challenge

USA Today High School Sports, Jarret Bell from

… “We’re learning ways to be able to properly utilize the technology that we get, the analytics that we get. There are some myths out there, and there is some wisdom. Hopefully, the analytics can tell us what the myths are and what the wisdom is.”

If not from the radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors sewn into shoulder pads, which fuels those “Next Gen Stats” and the league’s partnership with Zebra Technologies, then maybe the game-changing intel comes from Catapult’s GPS devices and accelerometers. Football, far from the way Vince Lombardi knew it, has advanced to the point where Xs and Os are complemented by biomechanics, blood analysis and wristband monitors pumping numbers galore. There’s even a sleeve that can be worn to monitor the stress on a quarterback’s arm.


No, Seriously This Time: Is This the End of the Spurs’ Dynasty?

The Ringer, Kevin O'Connor from

San Antonio has been read its last rites too many times to count over the past decade. But unlike before, there are warning signs that signal that recent struggles—and a surprising amount of off-court drama—may be the new normal for the NBA’s model franchise.


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